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View Poll Results: Should BBM be cross platform?

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  1. adamschuetze's Avatar
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #1  

    Default The case for cross platform BBM

    A long time ago (in a land far, far away), when messaging systems were in their infancy, and RIM had an overwhelming majority of smartphones with a best in class BBM, it made sense for RIM to keep BBM exclusive to BlackBerry. They were in the driver seat. Everybody had a BlackBerry. If you wanted access to BBM so you could communicate with your friends that had BBM, then you had to get a BlackBerry. It was an easy sell.

    This strategy only works if you're in the lead. RIM is no longer in this position, and needs a new strategy. Things have come full circle. For example, Apple has massive market share and it is using iMessage and Facetime to extend their reach in the same way that RIM once used BBM. People will buy an iPhone so they can iMessage and Facetime with their friends.

    BBM is still arguably the best in class messaging system, especially considering that BB10 BBM will have video chat. However, there are viable alternatives. These include closed sytems (iMessage and Facetime) and cross platform systems (Skype, Kik, WhatsApp, TalkBox, others). In the North American market at least, BBM is no longer a reason for an individual consumer to buy a BlackBerry. It is still a powerful selling point for companies deploying smartphones company wide, but for an individual consumer in North America (the market that RIM desperately needs to become relevant in), it hardly matters. Iíll get back to the emerging markets, and how I think that will pan out as well.

    At this point, BBM is just another messaging system. It has features to distinguish itself from the competition, but these features are no longer the knockout punch. Other messaging systems will suffice. Not having BBM is no longer a deal breaker. At this point, there are so few consumers with BlackBerry smartphones in North America that BBM is sliding towards irrelevancy. But what about emerging markets, you might say. You may feel compelled to bring up Africa or the Philippines, or Indonesia or India, where BlackBerry market saturation is still at pre-2008 North American numbers. It isn't going to last forever there, either. Other smartphone manufacturers are gaining traction in those markets, and BlackBerry won't enjoy the easy market lead there for long. The situation in North America is what is going to happen in the rest of the world, eventually. It's only a matter of time. BlackBerry succeeds in emerging markets because they are still selling low cost handsets and offering tiered BIS plans that remain mostly unchallenged. Now that Apple and Google have effectively conquered the North American smartphone market, they will turn their attention to other markets and start flooding them with low cost handsets. Google through its proxies is already on the way with that.

    If a cross platform BBM can be devised that leverages its unique features on Apple and Android and desktop PCs, it has a chance at making inroads on these other platforms. There are already cross platform solutions, and so BBM will have to differentiate itself. Message security is a big feature. Read receipts is another.

    Consider a moment the experience of two different BlackBerry users in North America: an existing customer, and a new customer.

    Existing customer:
    If you are in North America, you typically have watched your BBM list shrink drastically in recent years. Right now, my only BBM contacts are other BlackBerry enthusiasts that I have met through social media and forums, plus one guy that I play network games with, that Iíve never met in person. All my family, my friends, co-workers and acquaintances that were once on my BBM, are now gone. Why? They have switched to different platforms.

    New customer:
    You walk into a mobile phone shop, you peruse the devices. You get to talking to the salesperson about BlackBerry, and he thinks theyíre great and doesnít automatically push you towards an iPhone or Android device (rare). He talks up BBM, and how great it is. You tell him, all my friends have iPhones (or Androids, or some mix, depends on the person), can I BBM them? No. No you canít. So BBM isnít really a selling point for you. So maybe you buy a BlackBerry, and maybe you donít, but BBM isnít helping you pick BlackBerry. If youíre in an emerging market then yes, BBM will help drive your decision. But itís not going to be this way forever. Eventually cheap Android devices will be in those markets and BlackBerry wonít be such an easy sell.

    BlackBerry is no longer in a dominant market position in North America, and as a result BBM is no longer a feature that can be used to attract new customers. It does not entice a person to buy a BlackBerry, and it tends to isolate existing BlackBerry users from their friends, at least in the context of cross platform communication.

    I believe that creating a cross platform BBM is an essential change in order for RIM to maintain relevance, specifically in the near future in North America and Europe, but also in the years ahead in the emerging markets. By cross platform I mean simultaneous deployment of a cross-platform compatible solution for all smartphone and tablet platforms (Windows Phone, Android, iOS, Symbian, legacy BlackBerry, BlackBerry 10), and all desktop platforms (Windows, Apple, Linux). The wider and more simultaneous the adoption, the more effective the deployment would be. BBM could be the killer app. Combine text messaging, video calling, voice messaging, group communication, photo, list and calendar sharing, and bundle it all together with security and message receipts, and you have a real competitor to iMessage, Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, TalkBox, the works. Or go even further and directly compete with Skype with BBM-out or BBM-in, so that you can call telephones, and telephones can call your BBM.

    There are two markets to consider. The North American / European market, and what are being called emerging markets, which include (among others) India, Philippines, Africa, and Indonesia. It is common practice to point to the success of BlackBerry in these emerging markets as counter examples to the slip into near irrelevance that BlackBerry has experienced in North America.

    The problem is, the things that help BlackBerry do well in the emerging markets (inexpensive handsets, great battery life, tiered BIS plans) are things that are either killing it in North America (inexpensive low spec handsets also translate into a horribly outdated software experience) or are mostly irrelevant (sadly battery life is mostly irrelevant, and tiered BIS plans aren't as popular here due to the commoditization of unlimited or high cap data plans).

    I would argue that the competition (Google, Apple) has first worked on conquering North America, and will soon start to set their sights on the emerging markets. This is already starting to happen as low cost Android handsets are appearing in the emerging markets. I believe that as far as smartphones go, as North America goes, so goes the world. Eventually BlackBerry will have to deal with stiff competition in the emerging markets. This competition has all but obliterated the brand in North America.

    You donít have to charge people on other platforms to use BBM, if you combine availability of cross platform BBM with ability to connect iPhones and Android devices to tiered BIS plans. Consider the following scenarios, that include open platform BBM, and the ability to connect iPhones and Android devices to tiered BIS plans.

    Emerging markets: BlackBerry is a popular device, and chances are a new customerís friends are all on BBM. BBM is a big deal, and itís a selling feature. But it doesnít have to be a selling feature of just the hardware only. It can be a selling feature of tiered BIS plans, if you make them available to other smartphone brands. If you have cross platform BBM, then sure they can pick a different branded device. But tiered BIS plans are a big deal in these markets, because they allow customers to pay for only the services that they want. BIS allows this granular control. So if they are also allowed to use a tiered BIS plan on a competitorís device, they can use BBM, and RIM collects money for subscribers on these plans. The margins on these plans are much higher than hardware sales margins, from what I understand. Plus, BlackBerry isnít going to enjoy such unchallenged supremacy in these markets for long. And when that market lead goes away, so goes the advantages of having a closed BBM.

    North America: BlackBerry is not a popular device, and chances are a new customerís friends are not on BBM. Theyíre not going to buy a BlackBerry simply because it has BBM. Itís not a selling feature. In fact, itís worse than not a selling feature. Why buy a phone whose main feature is isolated from all your friends? But if BBM is cross platform and marketed hard as a great solution, then there is no loss. They might buy a BlackBerry, or they might not. But it will be a decision based on other strengths of the platform, coupled with the possibility of using BBM with anybody they want.

    BBM could compete with Skype, and as a bonus wipe out iMessage and Facetime and all the other cross platform messaging systems, replacing them with a single, ubiquitous messaging platform. A fully cross-platform voice, video, and text communication platform, that hooks into the standard telephone system as well. In emerging markets you could sell tiered BIS plans to any platform and make money that way. And in North America, well, BBM isnít going to drive someone to buy a BlackBerry, so opening it up is not a loss. Add to that Skype-style subscriptions to call telephones, and the revenue stream possibilities open up.
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    toneytone (11-09-2012) 
  2. Tre Lawrence's Avatar
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    #2  

    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    My concern with regards to opening up BBM to other platforms is that RIM runs the risk of sharing an exclusive gem, thereby giving folks a reason to go to another platform. At some point, it might be a valuable option to license, but probably not now.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    The trouble that most people who are in favor of cross-platform have is that they are viewing BBM as just a messaging/communication app.

    The reason why BBM should NOT be cross-platform is that BBM adds another unique facet to the BlackBerry experience. It's more than just an effective way of messaging people - it adds to the overall demeanor of BlackBerry and that is efficiency in getting things done. BBM, in the bigger picture of things, is a core OS feature to BlackBerry just like Peak and Flow is... of course this is all my humble opinion...
    jaydee5799 likes this.
  4. #4  

    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by trelawrence View Post
    My concern with regards to opening up BBM to other platforms is that RIM runs the risk of sharing an exclusive gem, thereby giving folks a reason to go to another platform. At some point, it might be a valuable option to license, but probably not now.
    In these days of Whatsapp, Kik Messenger and the like, I don't think BBM is as exclusive as RIM would like to make it out to be (even though personally I still think BBM is the gold standard for mobile IMs).

    If RIM wants BB10 to be a success, they can't rely solely on their "legacy" key strengths of email and messaging. They'll need to provide a solid, modern smartphone experience with hardware, software and an ecosystem that can play with the rest of the competition.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    What if caramilk gave up its secret of how they get that inside, or kfc's eleven herbs and spices then popeyes would taste the same. If you excel at something you keep it. BBM is the blackberry experience, safer and more reliable than imessage or whatever else out there. You want the best messaging tool, buy the tool that is best at providing it, BlackBerry.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Hey try this on for size, have apple open up their app store to android and blackberry and see how people feel about that. Blackberry has the BBM experience and apple has the app experience. Does it still make sense to give up one of your strong assets now? Probably not!
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    There is so much more to BBM then just messaging. BBM Groups open up a lot of options, from social groups, to a family-specific group where you can add grocery lists, to-do lists, family calendar, and other items to be shared. The right integration with PIM apps, and the ability for other apps to link into BBM is another advantage. Plus, you can include SMS contacts in your BBM list and communicate in one contact "inbox". What I would prefer to see is RIM integrate their third-party messaging apps into BBM, like they have done with SMS. Make BBM the place to go to chat via Google Talk, AIM, and so on.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by Xopher View Post
    There is so much more to BBM then just messaging. BBM Groups open up a lot of options, from social groups, to a family-specific group where you can add grocery lists, to-do lists, family calendar, and other items to be shared. The right integration with PIM apps, and the ability for other apps to link into BBM is another advantage. Plus, you can include SMS contacts in your BBM list and communicate in one contact "inbox". What I would prefer to see is RIM integrate their third-party messaging apps into BBM, like they have done with SMS. Make BBM the place to go to chat via Google Talk, AIM, and so on.
    I like that idea. Make it a much better im+ where you can have all your messenger contacts from all of them in one place.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    No, no, no, a thousand times no.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    I love the idea of keeping BBM strictly with BlackBerry...however at the same time I wish I could use it with more of my friends/family, so I'm torn.
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  11. dentynefire's Avatar
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    If you want BBM buy a BB. If you want your friends to have BBM, show them BB10!
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by pantlesspenguin View Post
    I love the idea of keeping BBM strictly with BlackBerry...however at the same time I wish I could use it with more of my friends/family, so I'm torn.
    Me too.

    I wish I could have my BBM contacts on my other devices, that way they would all be in all my phones. I've got one contact who will NOT use any other messenger and it's really inconvenient to have to juggle phones.

    On the other hand, as it's been said, BBM is a significant piece of the BB experience.

    I'm torn too.
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #13  

    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by JRAnciano View Post
    The trouble that most people who are in favor of cross-platform have is that they are viewing BBM as just a messaging/communication app.

    The reason why BBM should NOT be cross-platform is that BBM adds another unique facet to the BlackBerry experience. It's more than just an effective way of messaging people - it adds to the overall demeanor of BlackBerry and that is efficiency in getting things done. BBM, in the bigger picture of things, is a core OS feature to BlackBerry just like Peak and Flow is... of course this is all my humble opinion...
    Yes, it's more than just an effective way of messaging people. It does so much more, but only in the context of other BlackBerry users. Which at this point, in North America, are basically nil. If RIM wants to recapture the consumer market, they're going to have to embrace talking to other platforms, through easy integration of third party cloud storage, other messaging systems, etc.

    You can point to emerging markets all you want as a reason for closed platform BBM, but those markets are going to eventually go the same way North America once other competition hits those markets. And then you'll have a great BBM, on BlackBerry, to talk to ... who?
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackBerry Guy View Post
    In these days of Whatsapp, Kik Messenger and the like, I don't think BBM is as exclusive as RIM would like to make it out to be (even though personally I still think BBM is the gold standard for mobile IMs).

    If RIM wants BB10 to be a success, they can't rely solely on their "legacy" key strengths of email and messaging. They'll need to provide a solid, modern smartphone experience with hardware, software and an ecosystem that can play with the rest of the competition.
    It is your last sentence that I feel is key. RIM no longer has market share superiority, they need to start playing ball with the other ecosystems, and playing to that. Be the device that can talk to everybody. To put numbers on this, RIM is very proud of their 80 million users. Apple sold 5 million iPhone 5 in the first three days alone, and typically sells more than 400,000 iPhones per day. There are now 300 million Android devices worldwide, with 850,000 new activations per day.

    When you have essentially zero market share, the way back in is interoperability with everybody else. Not going your own way.
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by adamschuetze View Post
    It is your last sentence that I feel is key. RIM no longer has market share superiority, they need to start playing ball with the other ecosystems, and playing to that. Be the device that can talk to everybody. To put numbers on this, RIM is very proud of their 80 million users. Apple sold 5 million iPhone 5 in the first three days alone, and typically sells more than 400,000 iPhones per day. There are now 300 million Android devices worldwide, with 850,000 new activations per day.

    When you have essentially zero market share, the way back in is interoperability with everybody else. Not going your own way.
    You're confusing 80 millions active users with devices sold. Nobody else releases active users numbers. Somebody upgrading to a new Android or getting a replacement phone- new activation. Somebody getting a new blackberry or a replacement blackberry - still one active user.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by dentynefire View Post
    If you want BBM buy a BB. If you want your friends to have BBM, show them BB10!
    Customers aren't going to want to be doing the hard sell so they can talk to their friends. Even with open platform BBM, it would be a hard enough sell to get people to install BBM. I have a hard time getting friends to install TalkBox so we can all easily communicate. Do you think I'll be able to convince them to buy a phone? Customers want to be able to walk into a store, buy a phone, and then plug their friends into their phone and start chatting. Not become salespeople to make that happen.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by Xopher View Post
    There is so much more to BBM then just messaging. BBM Groups open up a lot of options, from social groups, to a family-specific group where you can add grocery lists, to-do lists, family calendar, and other items to be shared. The right integration with PIM apps, and the ability for other apps to link into BBM is another advantage. Plus, you can include SMS contacts in your BBM list and communicate in one contact "inbox". What I would prefer to see is RIM integrate their third-party messaging apps into BBM, like they have done with SMS. Make BBM the place to go to chat via Google Talk, AIM, and so on.
    Also, BBM Connected apps ...
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by JRAnciano View Post
    The trouble that most people who are in favor of cross-platform have is that they are viewing BBM as just a messaging/communication app.

    The reason why BBM should NOT be cross-platform is that BBM adds another unique facet to the BlackBerry experience. It's more than just an effective way of messaging people - it adds to the overall demeanor of BlackBerry and that is efficiency in getting things done. BBM, in the bigger picture of things, is a core OS feature to BlackBerry just like Peak and Flow is... of course this is all my humble opinion...
    All the hand waving aside, BBM is just a messaging app. A really good one.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by adamschuetze View Post
    To put numbers on this, RIM is very proud of their 80 million users. Apple sold 5 million iPhone 5 in the first three days alone, and typically sells more than 400,000 iPhones per day. There are now 300 million Android devices worldwide, with 850,000 new activations per day.
    Your point about the sizes of the bases is taken, but you're also committing one of the perpetual mis-quotes of stats that I see in the press ... comparing devices sold with active users. The metrics are different.

    the 80 million that RIM announces are people actively using BlackBerrys right now. Throughout their existence, RIM has sold hundreds of millions of BlackBerrys. Some are retired, sold, damaged, upgraded etc.

    The Apple and Android numbers are sold or activations, but don't confuse those with being 'actively in-use'. At one of the recent events I saw, Tim Cook threw out the figure, "Apple has sold 400 million iOS devices". Immediately, I saw journalists and fanboys spouting that number as "Apple's 400 million users". It's not the same thing.

    In my house, I have: 1) iPod touch; 1) iPhone 4S, 2) Apple TVs ... four iOS devices in total. One user.

    My best friend's wife is an Apple fangirl. She has purchased two iPod touches. One died when her daughter threw it on the floor. It was replaced. 2 devices, one user. Then she had an iPhone, which she dropped on the concrete in her driveway. It was replaced. 2 more devices. Same user. She later bought an iPad to surf the web. One more device. Same user. Finally, she won an iPad in a contest and keeps it as a spare. One more device. Same user. Six iOS devices in her possession at various points. One person.

    My other buddy is the biggest Apple nut you'll ever see. Like of the "I have a Steve Jobs action figure" variety. Like of the "don't say anything wrong about Apple or he'll come out singing" variety. He has bought every single iPhone ever released. And iPad. And iPod. and Apple TV.

    One user.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    I finally moved over to the yeh side.
    I see this as an opertuinty for RIM. If BB10 is as good as its looking the lose of customers wont happen.
    If RIM can sell the app for a resonable price point on other devices OR place addvertisments on BBM on other platforms I like the idea.
    They need to start generating revenue from BBM. They need to find a way, this could be it.
    Plus as people see how great it is, By then they will be talking about BB10. We just might see more people say why don't I just get a BlackBerry!
    Plus with BBM video chat I believe this might solve some of the skype issues! and posibly over time with M2M applications be better then Skype!

    EDIT; The CBers here have made me rethink once again. I guess im torn... It is a large issue that i'm sure RIM has given similar thought to.
    Last edited by Dapper37; 11-10-2012 at 07:11 PM.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by trelawrence View Post
    My concern with regards to opening up BBM to other platforms is that RIM runs the risk of sharing an exclusive gem, thereby giving folks a reason to go to another platform. At some point, it might be a valuable option to license, but probably not now.
    If my friend thinks its not a good idea for RIM, that means it probably is.
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by axeman1000 View Post
    What if caramilk gave up its secret of how they get that inside, or kfc's eleven herbs and spices then popeyes would taste the same. If you excel at something you keep it. BBM is the blackberry experience, safer and more reliable than imessage or whatever else out there. You want the best messaging tool, buy the tool that is best at providing it, BlackBerry.
    very valid point!
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    Thread AuthorThread Author   #23  

    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by axeman1000 View Post
    What if caramilk gave up its secret of how they get that inside, or kfc's eleven herbs and spices then popeyes would taste the same. If you excel at something you keep it. BBM is the blackberry experience, safer and more reliable than imessage or whatever else out there. You want the best messaging tool, buy the tool that is best at providing it, BlackBerry.
    A better analogy would be:

    "What if Caramilk was only sold in Kwik-E-Mart stores, and you had to eat the Caramilk inside the Kwik-E-Mart store."

    Do you think you'd make the trip to Springfield for a Caramilk?
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    Default Re: The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by RubberChicken76 View Post
    Also, BBM Connected apps ...
    So far, BBM Connected has been a total waste of time. What, so my app can "announce itself" (spam) my BBM list, and update my BBM profile constantly?
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    Default The case for cross platform BBM

    Quote Originally Posted by adamschuetze View Post
    So far, BBM Connected has been a total waste of time. What, so my app can "announce itself" (spam) my BBM list, and update my BBM profile constantly?
    Exactly! Not only is it useless, but it's annoying. I've got one colleague who's had a "I just installed ____" as his BBM status for months. He doesn't know any better...but I'm awfully sick of looking at it.

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